Next I want to examine the points that Mike Newnham brings up as to the “new movement” he yearns for.

But first, two things:

  1. I at the outset want to point out I don’t think that the CC Movement is calcified, cracking, inflexible, or Spirit-choked. In general.
  2. I don’t think that the Spirit stops moving. Pedantic point, to be sure, and I’m certain Mike didn’t mean otherwise, but I want to make clear that I believe that right at the outset.

I like his list of things that are “keepers” with regard to Calvary Chapel.

  1. A complete commitment to the Bible as God’s inspired word.
  2. A commitment to worship.
  3. A commitment to evangelism.

Good list.

I believe that the two primary, sine qua non essentials that universally define Calvary Chapel – what we are known for – are:

  • The primacy of the expositional, Genesis-to-Maps, verse-by-verse teaching of the Bible.
    • Yes, I know that some guys don’t do the V-B-V thing, and I know that Chuck teaches topicals. But the topicals are couched within the larger context of the Sunday night V-B-V teaching and, to be quite honest, Chuck (and CC by extension) aren’t known for our brilliant topicals, but for our unswerving commitment to the whole “line upon line” thing.
    • One of the reasons I really don’t understand why anybody would even want to be identified with Calvary Chapel who eschews the V-B-V thing in favor of the “this month, we’re doing a series on ______________________!” thing in the stead thereof. But I digress.
  • A balanced view of the Gifts of the Spirit.
    • Mike doesn’t think afterglows in the back room are sufficient. Let me categorically state – I agree with him. However, administering the whole “decently and in order” thing in churches the size of Costa Mesa necessitates the whole “afterglow” thing – and hence a practice that arose out of practical necessity becoming a CC hadith followed by many protégés without questioning why and understanding the original reasons behind it – and thus after questioning, taking away the principles rather than simply copying.
    • Here on the glorious West Coast of Michigan, we do the afterglow thing every Sunday night at our prayer meeting. Our fellowship here is orders of non-magnitude tiner than Costa Mesa – I would venture to say, smaller than Costa Mesa’s men’s room. So it’s easier to administer. Plus, nobody shows up to the prayer meeting (no food), so it’s real easy for me & my lovely and gracious wife to go get our Azusa Street freak on. But, whatever works…

Quick interlude, on the whole subject of Sunni CCs. The Murrieta Pastor’s Conference is coming up in June – an event I look forward to every year. Not primarily for the teaching, which is always great – but let’s face it, I can always get the DVDs – but for the fellowship with brothers-in-arms that I don’t get to see but once a year. Most of the ministry to me happens between the sessions and during the glutto– er, that is, “eating”.

Ahem.

But it was really funny the first two years to see all these dudes from the Midwest walking around with Hawaiian shirts on.

Chuck wears Hawaiians.

I minister in Michigan. We don’t have too many flights to the Islands from the Muskegon airport or Gerald R. Ford International Airport (which can be called “international” because some flights go to Canada – the Maple Leaf State). In tongue-in-cheek semi-protest, I purposefully didn’t wear Hawaiians while out in Murrieta, instead wearing a Red Wings sweater (that’d be “jersey” for those of y’all in the south – like Indiana) or a Mossy Oak RealTree (TM) shirt under a flannel outer or something.

…but I’ve now taken to wearing Hawaiians, too.

Largely because, let’s face it – nothing’s funnier than to watch a furry fat guy sweat in SoCal because he pridefully won’t follow the crowd – and Hawaiians are a lot cooler to wear.

So to be consistent, I’ve started wearing Hawaiians here in Michigan.

Sigh.

To be fair, it’s really opened a lot of conversations up here, and I get to brag on our “simple hippie noncomplicated you don’t have to wear shoes if’n yer don’t warna” church.

Go figure.

Back to the point.

Which brings us to the point where I’m going to begin some disagreeing with Mike’s points.

4. Freedom in non-essentials.

To break fellowship or disqualify someone from ministry based on their eschatology is senseless beyond belief.

To exclude people based on where they stand on the line that runs between Calvinism and Arminianism is equally inane.

I’m tempted to go all John Kerry here and say “I agree… and I disagree…,” but in the final analysis, I really don’t agree.

First, as I pointed out in an earlier blogpost examining Mark “Blankety-Blank” Driscoll’s treatment of the issue of Calvary Chapel and eschatology, I reject the idea that CC breaks fellowship with someone based on their eschatology. We had Jacob Prasch recently speak at a pastor’s conference – and I could be wrong, but I don’t think he’s a dyed-in-the-wool dispie. This is not a litmus test issue for fellowship.

Now, for ministry…? Yeah, I’ll grant that. Much like the dudes at Chalcedon are really committed to postmillennialism and will disqualify a dispie from ministry in a Chalcedon-affiliated church (like Messiah’s Congregation in New York – Steve Schlissel’s church). Hey – pretrib premil is a universally recognized aspect of Calvary Chapel – you know that going in.

I look at it like the issue of baptism. I wouldn’t expect to be welcomed into ministry with opened arms in a (consistent) Presbyterian church if I started preaching credobaptism and against paedobaptism.

And baptism is (arguably) a much less central issue than is one’s eschatology.
Arguably.

Unless, of course, you’re into Covenant Theology, in which case it becomes the outward, visible sign of the covenant.

ADD… ADD… ADD…

Back on track.

So, I don’t apologize for insisting that, if someone’s going to be identified as representative of the official, hands-laid-on-by-the-elders ministry of Calvary Chapel, that they’d be copasetic with the doctrinal particulars – including eschatology.

We’re not alone in that, by the way. The Christian and Missionary Alliance is unapologetically pretrib, too. And they’re an honest-to-gum denomination.

To quote the great philosopher of old: D’OH!!!

Now, as to the Calvinism-Arminianism thing (BTW – for some of my compadres – it’s “Arminian,” not “Arminianist” or “Armenian.” An “Armenian” is a dude from a landlocked country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Rousas J. Rushdoony’s forebears hail from thence.

I have no idea what an “Arminianist” is.)

But as to the whole Calvinism-Arminianism thing… with all due respect, “Yadda, yadda, yadda.” And I mean that respectfully.

I am decidedly non-Calvinist. As a non-Calvinist, I am forever barred from partaking of the joys and privileges of the Acts 29 Network, no matter how much I’m diggin’ on Driscoll, simply because I don’t burn incence on any of the five altars of the Dordrecht Divines.

I’m quite certain that I wouldn’t be looked at twice for a ministry position with John Piper’s “Desiring God” organization, or his Bethlehem Baptist Church.

In fact, I’m almost certain that there are distinctly Reformed (read: Calvinist) denominations – whole slews of them.

To say nothing of the sundry an assorted Presbyterian churches.

Sooooooooo… are they allowed to discriminate on the basis of soteriology, but we aren’t…?

Look: personally, I don’t care if anybody’s come down with a mild case of Calvinism, so long as they take plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest, and don’t operate heavy equipment until they’re sure how the Genevan system will affect them. Many people lead long, productive lives after testing Tim-Keller-positive. To me, it’s like the whole Emerging thing; the milder cases are actually quite innocuous. Amusing, cute, but overall innocuous.

And in fact, Calvinism wasn’t a big deal in Calvary Chapel until sometime in the late ’80’s, early ’90’s, when some young bucks got hit by a bad case of the Westminster Catechism went all Rambo over the…ah…doctrines of grace…and somewhat ungraciously began pummelling all us mindless semi-Pelagian heretics over the head with their copies of A.W. Pink.

Or so I’m told. I wasn’t there. I was still doing my best to finish out High School with something approaching a passing grade. Erckh.

But I believe it was an older, wiser Calvary pastor on the PP blog which pointed out that what ruined it for the rest of the Augustinians in the movement was that these few “didn’t adorn the doctrine well.”

So, now it’s an issue.

Bottom-line (and I have to bottom-line this one, because the puck’s about to drop), we aren’t a denomination, nor are we opposed to deno– drat. Sorry. It comes so easy…

…but seriously; we’re not a denomination. “We” are a group of independent fellowships who voluntarily choose to identify with the vision, philosophy of ministry, and principles that God has given us through the example set by Chuck Smith. As such, Chuck has the right to define what that looks like – and he’s delegated that to CCOF.

And the parameters of what that looks like are the Distinctives.

Gotta go – I need to have a few moments of prayer and fasting for my Wings so that they take a 2-1 series lead tonight on the Ducks’ ice. Oh, please, oh, please, oh, please, oh, please…

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